CSKA took the big make-or-break showdown to win regular season Group C by edging Caja Laboral 84-83 in Moscow, Russia on Thursday night. CSKA finished first with an 8-2 record and registered its seventh consecutive win. Meanwhile, Laboral was second with a 7-3 record. Trajan Langdon became the game hero by nailing the game-winning three-pointer with 7.6 seconds left. Langdon and a recovered Ramunas Siskauskas paced the winners with 21 points apiece. Viktor Khryapa posted a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds while J.R. Holden had 11 points for CSKA. Mirza Teletovic led Laboral with 21 points. Sean Singletary and Tiago Splitter each added 16 while Pau Ribas had 14 for the guests, that led 18-24 after 10 minutes and boosted their margin to 30-39 behind an unstoppable Teletovic. Siskauskas led a 15-0 run that allowed CSKA to get the lead. Back-to-back triples by Holden gave the hosts their biggest lead, 74-63, with 8 minutes left. Singletary singlehanddly brought Laboral back to life and a fallaway jumper by Carl English completed the guests' comeback, 81-82, with 46.7 seconds to go. It all came down to the final second, in which Langdon hit the go-ahead triple and Singletary missed from downtown at the buzzer.
Splitter got Laboral going with an uncontested dunk but Sasha Kaun answered in the same way for a 2-2 tie. Laboral tried to use Pau Ribas on Langdon, with Fernando San Emeterio guarding CSKA playmaker Zoran Planinic. Teletovic downed a six-meter shot and Ribas buried a mid-range jumper, as CSKA could not run its offense through Langdon. Khryapa and Ribas struck from downtown and Teletovic joined the three-point shootout to boost his team's margin to 5-12. Planinic nailed a three-pointer and Khryapa dunked it but a driving basket by San Emeterio kept Laboral ahead, 10-14. Ribas sank his second triple off a Laboral timeout but Khryapa quickly answered from downtown and Planinic added a driving basket for a 15-17 CSKA deficit. Splitter took over with a jump hook that Khryapa matched with a fast break layup. San Emeterio hit one from beyond the arc and a dominant Splitter soon gave Laboral a 18-24 edge at the end of an exciting first quarter.
Teletovic and Khryapa traded three-pointers early in the second quarter. A red hot Teletovic insisted from downtown to make it a nine-point game, 21-30. Laboral dominated the game with its fully adjusted man-to-man defense and Marcelo Huertas downed a running jumper for a 21-32 score. Holden nailed a corner jumper and soon added his trademark catch-and-shoot triple to bring CSKA back to life, 26-32. Splitter scored in transition but a reverse layup by Siskauskas got the crowd fully involved. Teletovic - who else? - fired in his fourth three-pointer but San Emeterio had to head back to the bench with 3 fouls. Huertas fed Splitter for an alleyoop dunk but Siskauskas and Kaun kept CSKA within 34-39. Laboral called timeout but kept committing turnovers. Meanwhile, Siskauskas and Langdon hit free throws for a 38-39 score. The guests tried a tall lineup with Lior Eliyahu guarding Siskauskas and Stanko Barac at center. Siskauskas buried a three-pointer to give CSKA its first lead, 41-39, at halftime.
Planinic and Langdon shined with consecutive layups immediately after the break for a 45-39 CSKA lead, after a 15-0 run. Splitter took over with a big basket in the low post but Langdon sank a jumper coming off a screen soon struck from downtown. Ribas and once again Teletovic answered from beyond the arc to bring Laboral back to life, 51-47. Kaun banked in a close jumper but Ribas did better with a three-pointer. Langdon kept pacing CSKA with another big triple and Khryapa soon added a jump hook to make Laboral call timeout at 57-50. Coach Dusko Ivanovic tried to change the game rhythm with Singletary at point guard. He scored off a steal but free throws by Langdon boosted his team's lead to 60-52. Barac stepped up with a jump hook and Singletary scored again but Langdon nailed a big triple for a 63-56 CSKA edge. Barac kept pacing Laboral with a jumper that Siskauskas matched with a fast break layup. Siskauskas struck from downtown but free throws by Singletary and an unbelievable buzzer-beating triple by Teletovic got Laboral within 68-63 after 30 minutes.
Holden nailed a running three-pointer early in the fourth quarter, as Laboral struggled to get Teletovic involved. Holden struck again from downtown to make an 11-point game, 74-63, with 8 minutes left. Singletary downed a triple off a Laboral timeout and Splitter added a layup in transition to bring the guests back to life, 74-68. Khryapa scored in penetration but Splitter answered in the same way and San Emeterio got Laboral within 76-71. Siskauskas sank a corner triple but a high-flying tip-in by Singletary and a big basket by San Emeterio got Laboral even closer, 79-75, with under 4 minutes left. Singletary banked in a close jumper and nailed a six-meter shot to tie the game, 79-79, with 2:15 to go. CSKA kept struggling to score right when it mattered but Siskauskas stepped up with free throws. Teletovic went 1-of-3 from the foul line and English beat the shot clock with a fallaway jumper to complete the guests' comeback, 81-82, with 46.7 seconds left. Planinic missed from downtown and Singletary made 1-of-2 free throws for a 81-83 score with 19.9 seconds to go. Langdon set the crowd on fire with a three-pointer and Singletary missed from beyond the arc at the buzzer, allowing all CSKA fans to celebrate that their team won Group C.
Thursday, January 14, 2010